Dr Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah, 9, and Noah, 5, the York County coroner’s office said.

Former Atlanta Falcons defensive back Phillip Adams arrives for an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville, on October 25, 2015.
Former Atlanta Falcons defensive back Phillip Adams arrives for an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville, on October 25, 2015. (AP)

The gunman who killed five people including a prominent doctor in South Carolina was former NFL player Phillip Adams, who killed himself, a source who was briefed on the investigation and local media say.

Adams, 32, a former National Football League player, was found dead in a nearby house hours after the killings of five people at the home of Dr Robert Lesslie in suburban Rock Hill, South Carolina, the Rock Hill Herald reported.

The newspaper, citing "law enforcement sources," said police believe Adams took his life after they surrounded the house he was in.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to speak publicly, said Adams' parents live near the doctor's home in Rock Hill, and that he had been treated by the doctor. The source said Phillips killed himself after midnight with a .45 caliber weapon.

Adams, 33, played as a defensive back for multiple teams including the 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons after starring at South Carolina State. He also suffered multiple injuries in the NFL, including concussions and a broken left ankle.

The York County coroner’s office said Dr Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.

A man who had been working at the home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside, and a sixth person was hospitalised with “serious gunshot wounds,” York County Sheriff’s Office's spokesperson Trent Faris said.

Faris said deputies were called around 4:45 pm (2045 GMT) on Wednesday to the Lesslies' home, and spent hours searching for the suspect before finding him in a nearby home.

“We have found the person we believe is responsible and we are with him at this time and that’s all I can say about the suspect,” Faris said.

The investigation is ongoing, he said.

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Rock Hill's doctor

“Dr Lesslie was my doctor growing up,” Faris said. “Dr Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows. He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it’s been a staple in Rock Hill for years.”

A biography page of Dr Lesslie said he and his wife of 35 years raised four children. He had been practicing medicine in Rock Hill since 1981, according to the Riverview website. He received his degree at the Medical University of South Carolina and has worked in the surrounding Rock Hill area and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Rock Hill is a city in northernmost South Carolina about 40 km southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Source: AP